For seven years I have kept Jim’s ties in a bag. I wanted to make a memorial wall hanging for our son that would truly spark memories. Jim was a school psychologist and family therapist at a local educational facility where special needs kids were taught from all over the county (B.O.C.E.S#1). It was also a place where job skills programs were offered to the non-college students of the local district. Consequently Jim sometimes wore ties that had a message or animals on them. He had one with Santa, one with children of the world holding hands, and two special ones with colorful frogs! It helped to keep the children’s interest while he was talking with them.
Those ties posed a problem for me though. They were so diverse and were of many different colors. I am a quilter, among other things, and I liked my quilt squares to look cohesive and not like the colors were “fighting” each other. Finally this year I saw a very simple quilt square that I thought might work. As I put ties together whose hues seemed to complement each other, I knew this pattern would work. Also thinking about my son, who now even as an adult wears mostly black, grey, navy, and tan, and doesn’t like the old fashioned-looking quilts, I thought if I rimmed all the different colored squares in black satin then perhaps he would like it.
That turned out to be the trick! By outlining them in black, and setting them all in a lattice that looks like a starry night (or the Milky Way) in soft dark blue-purple material with silver glitter and white dots on it, it was perfect. Finding that lattice material didn’t happen until after all the squares were completed, so this was a real moment of serendipity! I knew that would work because Jim was a lover of astronomy, having studied it as a young teen at the Newark Planetarium in New Jersey. I couldn’t have been more thrilled how it turned out.
Working on this as a surprise for our son during the holidays helped me to feel better and more optimistic about life and the celebrations of it. It is a lot of work, though. Deconstructing all the ties (tearing apart all the stitching) to get the silk material, having to press and back the silk with Pelon in order to keep the silk stable was more work, but so worth it. It should be used in a place more for display, because I know the ties would fall apart with constant washing should they get dirty.
Working on it did make me chuckle. In the preparation of the ties, I ran across a number that had all sorts of food caked on the back of them! Sorry to say this, but you know men! They only look at what shows, and I’ll bet I could count the number of times I ever took a tie to the dry cleaners on one hand! I never checked them for spots….I expected Jim to tell me when they needed cleaning….but nope! Hung right up again!